Monday, November 16, 2009


I'm returning to an old favourite here. Around the year 2000 I was working at SSVH, (The Swedish Institute for Distance Education) in Härnösand. One of the teachers found "Froguts", a web-based dissection simulator, where you could "dissect" a frog. If my memory serves me well, after discussion with the developers the  site was translated into Swedish so we could use it with our students.  We thought this was one of the best educational sites available, because it ...
  • was directly relevant to the school curriculum, 
  • made a somewhat specialised activity available to many more students, 
  • greatly reduced the "yuk" factor, and thereby increased accessibility and learning
  •  last but not least, prevented the killing of a large number of frogs! 
SSVH no longer exists and the Swedish version of Froguts probably sits inside an archive as a series of printed pages. :-(
However, Froguts is still very much with us. The quality, and the range of dissections available, continues to develop, and the annual subscription is affordable.  The reasons we thought it an excellent tool are still relevant today and perhaps the prevalence of computer games makes it even more relevant to  today's students/pupils. Take a look at Froguts home page and demo!

By the way,  here is another  favourite web site I have probably mentioned earlier. SSVH ceased to exist in 2001 but I can still link to several versions of its web page via the Way Back Machine, an incredible and wonderful archive of the internet. Here is an English version of SSVH's home page, back in 1999.  If you are feeling nostalgic, or doing research into how an organisation used the web earlier, then take a look at the Way Back Machine.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

New Scientist - educational items

I've been reading the latest New Scientist and found a couple of articles relevant to education.  The first is a brief article about using Twitter to provide relatively simple continuous student-assessment of teaching quality on a course - an interesting idea I thought. 

The second article provides food-for-thought rather than directly applicable methods. It contrasts IQ, which is hard (impossible?) to alter, with "RQ", rational decision-making skills, which can be taught. There are a lot of people with a high IQ who have problems making good decisions!

"A high IQ is like height in a basketball player," says David Perkins, who studies thinking and reasoning skills at Harvard Graduate School of Education in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "It is very important, all other things being equal. But all other things aren't equal. There's a lot more to being a good basketball player than being tall, and there's a lot more to being a good thinker than having a high IQ."

What is interesting in an educational context is that working to improve students' RQ would help everyone, and perhaps even help make the world a better place. 
Everyone can read an introduction to the article, but only subscribers can read the whole article.

Happy reading!


Monday, October 26, 2009

Internet history - happy birthday!

According to the Guardian newspaper we can pick 1969 as the year the internet was born, and to celebrate they have produced a year-by-year history with side links to many of the events and personal stories of internet usage.

Why 1969? It was in this year that the first two host computers were linked together by Bill Duvall and Charlie Kline, and as part of the Guardian's history of the internet we can watch an interview with them and learn that by the end of 1969 there were 4 host computers on the Arpanet, as it was then known.

Ten years later there were 188 host computers, and another ten years on, in 1989, a Cern researcher called Tim Berners-Lee outlined a proposal to store Cern information using "hypertext links" that will allow information from one computer to appear as if it is stored on another computer. He calls his system the "Worldwide Web".

The worldwide web then starts to develop at an ever accelerating pace. Read through the Guardian's year-by-year history...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wikis and Medical Information - Developments

First a question...
If you want information on Swine influenza (H1N1) do you go the library, your doctor, or to Internet?
I've just been reading about the use of health information on the Internet in the latest New Scientist. Much of it concerned wikis and especially Wikipedia, for example that 50% of doctors use Wikipedia for health info. At the moment there are speciality wikis, written by doctors etc, and Wikipedia, written by anyone, including doctors. Since the public are using Wikipedia as their source some in the medical establishment think that it is a good place for specialists to place their advice and knowledge. For the whole article go to
Other medical sources on the web...
Medpedia, WebMD, UK's NHS
This is yet another example of how Internet is becoming society's knowledge source and democratising knowledge.